Welcome back to the Testudo Times film room. No. 17 Maryland men’s basketball finally won its first true road game of the season, taking down Northwestern 77-66 Tuesday night.
As has become the norm, the Terps came out of the gates slow and put together one of their worst starts of the season — they trailed by 14 at halftime. However, after the break, Maryland came out firing led by superb performances from Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins.
Smith was a star on both ends of the floor, posting a career-high 25 points while Wiggins continued to regain his form from behind the arc by knocking down five three pointers — which is tied for a career-high.
Let’s take a look at all of Smith’s, Wiggins’ and the rest of the Terps’ impact plays from the comeback win.
Jalen Smith put together one of the best games of his career
During the first half of this game, Smith was completely out of it and could not have looked more overmatched by the Northwestern bigs when he would try to get positioning down low. However, once the second half started, Smith looked like a man amongst boys offensively.
This play was simple, but really got the Terps going to start the second half. Anthony Cowan Jr. missed an easy layup, but Smith got the inside positioning on the follow and was able to finish off the rebound with a dunk plus the foul.
The pick-and-pop at the top of the key has become Smith’s bread and butter over the course of Big Ten play. Smith could have shot the ball after he got the ball the first time on the perimeter, but decided to give it up to Cowan, who attracted both men at the top of the 2-3 zone.
Smith was patient and waited for the better look after setting the screen for Cowan and it paid off. One of the reasons why the sophomore has had so much success with shooting the three this season has been his patience to wait for the best look possible from deep, and it showed on this play.
On this play, it seemed as if the Terps were maybe going to have a breakdown offensively and put up a bad shot at the end of the shot clock, but Smith helped avoid that outcome.
While Cowan was driving to the hoop and getting stopped by the Northwestern defender, Smith made the smart decision to cut to the basket. Cowan kicked the ball out to Eric Ayala, who found a wide open Smith at the basket for the easy dunk.
On this play, The Terps used another pick-and-pop on the perimeter to give Smith his second made three pointer of the night. Smith is shooting 54.2 percent from deep during Big Ten games and has continued to impress with his stroke from beyond the arc with each showing.
Smith finished the day with a career-high 25 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block. This game was “Stix’s” 10th double-double of the season.
Aaron Wiggins was lights out from deep
Wiggins came out of the halftime gates firing and got the Terps comeback started with a big three-pointer. The sophomore guard rotated perfectly around the perimeter and was able to get an open look.
Like Smith, Wiggins’ shooting has gotten better as he has become more patient with his approach from deep. On this play, he could have shot the ball immediately, but he decided to penetrate and kick to Smith, who was able to find Wiggins for a much better look.
Wiggins finished the game with 17 points, on 5-for-9 shooting from deep. All of his points from the field came from downtown. Although it is a small sample size, Wiggins is shooting 47.6 percent from deep over the course of his past three games, which is a very encouraging sign that he is coming out of his long lasting shooting slump to start the season.
Other standout plays
This was one of Maryland’s worst plays of the game for a number of reasons. The whole sequence is not shown in the clip above, but for the duration of the shot clock Ayala and Darryl Morsell kicked it back and forth to each other on the perimeter. Smith and Cowan never touched the ball on this sequence and that is something that cannot happen.
Maryland had far too many possessions like this in the first half, which was a main reason why the deficit grew so large. When the shot clock is winding down and nothing is going right, Maryland has to find a way to get the ball in its best players’ (Cowan and Smith) hands to try to make something happen.
This play was a great example of what Cowan can do when he gets the ball in isolation. He got the ball, put a few dribble moves on his defender and then finished strong at the rim to convert the layup.
Cowan needs to look for more opportunities like this, especially when the shot clock is winding down and the offensive movement gets stagnant.
Maryland has struggled quite a bit this year with inbounds plays, but this one worked to perfection for the Terps. Donta Scott got the ball in to Serrel Smith Jr., who then kicked it right back out to Scott for the open three-pointer.
Whether it was intentional or not, Smith Jr. did a great job of pivoting and making sure Scott’s defender could not make it over in time to get a hand up to alter the three-point attempt.
This was one of Maryland’s best sequences of the night, and also when it first captured the lead in the second half. Smith came over to help Scott on Pat Spencer’s drive to the hoop and came away with the big rejection.
Wiggins brought the ball up in transition and was able to find Cowan for the three ball. Maryland has been fairly successful in transition this season and this was another example of it.